USA vs. Mexico: “Dos a Cero” curse comes to an end

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by Carlos D. Mojica ()| Photo by Jorge O. Martínez

On a cold November night, the U.S. fell to Mexico to the tune of 2-1 thanks to goals by Miguel Layún and Rafael Márquez. The game was heated from beginning to end, and was only won in the dying minutes as Márquez headed in the winner off a corner kick.

“We expected a strong team, a team with several players that are playing at a high level,” said Jozy Altidore. “This is a lesson for us.”

Rolling out a 3-4-1-2 formation, the U.S. was faced by a Mexican side that was methodical and put pressure on the Yanks from the very first minute. With Christian Pulisic playing behind Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore, it was evident the Americans were still getting used to their new formation.

Mexico fired off a few warning shots before scoring, hitting the woodwork early on. In the 20th minute, Layún fired off a rocket that beat Howard, giving El Tri the lead and putting an end to the fabled Dos a Cero.

“I just thought about hitting it right,” said Layún of the goal.”Johnson – if I’m not mistaken – managed to get a touch on it, so it went in a little slower and I was trying to see if it’d go in or not. When I saw it was in, I felt incredibly happy.”

The U.S. struggled to get back into the game following the goal, but they did put together a few attacks through Pulisic and Wood, though the first half ended with the hosts trailing 1-0.

The second half saw a switch information by Klinsmann, who reinstituted Pulisic to the left wing and switched Fabian Johnson to the right wing, in a more familiar 4-4-2 formation. The move looked to pay off, as the Americans came into the second half guns blazing.

Looking more dangerous than they had in the first half, the U.S. pulled a goal back just four minutes in thanks to Wood, who received a ball from Altidore before beating two defenders and putting the ball past Alfredo Talavera.

The rest of the match was played on even terms, with both teams keeping fans on the edge of their seats. Despite the score being 1-1 for most of the second half, there was a sense that second goal could come at any minute for either team, if only someone dared step up.

Márquez turned out to be that player, as with two minutes left of regular time, he rose in the air to head in Layún’s corner kick, sending it into the far post. The U.S. attempted rally following the goal, but it was to no avail, with the only significant piece of action following the goal was a foul that earned Carlos Salcedo a red card.

With Mexico’s victory marking the end of the Dos a Cero curse, Layún was glad to have played part in it.

“I’m happy to have been part those who came here to write a new chapter in the history of this stadium,” he shared.

Up next for the U.S. is an away match on Sunday against Costa Rica, one of their top rivals in the region, so the U.S. can’t afford to dwell on the loss too much.

“We need to keep our heads up and go for three points against Costa Rica,” added Altidore. “Tonight we’re going to think a bit more about this match, we’ll watch some video, and tomorrow we’ll think about Costa Rica.”